Now this is interesting, and somewhat ironic. 

Last June, over a quarter of 800 bicyclists in a race in British Columbia became ill from  what public health officials believe is one of the biggest reported outbreaks in this country of Campylobacter jejuni – a diarrhea-causing bacteria that is generally contracted through consumption of contaminated food or water.

But it wasn’t the food or water the cyclists consumed that made them sick.  No, it was the mud.  June can be a rainy month in BC and the mud was so thick in places that bikers had to dismount and push their way through it.

So when so many became sick, the mud was suspected from the beginning by both health officials and those involved in the race.

"All you could see were the whites of their eyes from the pictures we saw," Dr. Eleni Galanis said of the riders. "There was a lot of mud flying."

Findings of the investigation into the outbreak were presented Monday  (3/17/08) at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.  It was the feces in the mud that gave the riders campylobacter.

The Canadian Press Report on the outbreak can be found here.